Posted by CJ Casciotta: A recent article in highlighted the importance of growing one’s “social score.” The article argues that one’s influence today greatly hinges upon the amount of social media followers they have, how influential their followers are, how much they interact with influential people, etc.  It even cites companies known for giving swanky freebies to those with high scores as a marketing tactic.

Bottom line: We live in a culture desperately clinging for clout.

And it makes sense when we consider influence as linear but our perspective shifts when we see influence as exponential.

What I mean by exponential influence is the indisputable but often overlooked reality that your interaction with just one person has the potential to alter history and shape the lives of countless individuals and people groups.

Let’s look to literature for an example. Long before the days of social media, Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables. The novel opens with the unbridled compassion of a bishop who welcomes a hopeless and hardened convict into his home. When Jean Val Jean is caught for stealing the bishop’s most prized possessions, he sets him free without question or condition except the charge to “become an honest man.” Out of one person’s empathy and generosity, Jean Val Jean revolutionizes himself from dishonest dead-beat to benevolent mayor, improving the lives of thousands and shaping history in the process.

If literature isn’t enough to convince you, here’s a real life example. A friend of mine is a brilliant and highly sought after pastor, communicator, and leader… and he just turned 24. He’s been through youth group, Bible college and seminary but recently told me that out of all the people in his life he credits the janitor of the church he grew up in for developing him into the influencer he is today. He hopes to be like him the most.

A janitor.

Not a professor. Not a college president. Not a spokesperson.

A guy who’s probably never tweeted a day in his life because he’s too busy either cleaning toilets or making history.

If they were honest, people who hold a linear influence perspective might view him as a cultural failure, never amounting to much on the corporate ladder. But at People of the Second Chance, we challenge the common misconceptions about failure and success. We celebrate the exponential influencers and champion the incognito culture-makers who work hard to shape history for the better.

It may look sexier, be simpler to attain, and even include some pretty sweet perks, but linear influence should never be exchanged at the expense of exponential influence. The future depends on it.

Who’s a janitor in your life? Who has influenced you in ways they may never know? Let us know so we can thank them together.